Talking Tips

Time to Talk Day is about us all being open to the idea of talking – we all have mental health, and by having conversations about it we can help ourselves and others. 

If someone does open up about their mental health, we know it might not always feel easy to know what to say. But it doesn’t have to be awkward, and being there for someone can make a big difference.

There is no single way to talk about mental health. But these tips can help make sure you’re approaching it positively.

Ask questions and listen 

Asking questions can give another person space to express how they’re feeling and what they’re going through. It will help you to understand their experiences better. Try to ask questions that are open and not leading or judgemental, questions like “How does that affect you?” or “What does it feel like?”


Think about the time and place

Sometimes it’s easier to talk side by side rather than face to face. You might want to chat while you doing something else. You could start a conversation when you’re walking, cooking or stuck in traffic. However, don’t let the search for the perfect setting put you off!

Don’t try and fix it

It can be hard to see someone you care about having a difficult time. However, try to resist the urge to look for quick fixes. Learning to manage or recover from mental health issues can be a long journey. And they’ve likely already considered lots of different tools and strategies. Just talking can be really powerful; so, unless someone has asked for advice directly, it might be best just to listen.

Treat them the same

When someone has a mental health challenge, they’re still the same person as they were before. And that means when a friend or loved one opens up, they don’t want to be treated any differently to how they were treated before. If you want to support them, keep it simple. Do all the things you’d normally do.

Be patient

No matter how hard you try, some people might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through. That’s ok – the fact that you’ve reached out may make it easier for them to open up another time.

If you or someone you know is struggling

It’s great to start the conversation about mental health. We hope that these tips help get you talking. Occasionally, people currently experiencing mental health issues will need some extra support – sensitive conversations may bring up difficult feelings. There are lots of places to go for help, including our Community Wellbeing NI website. You can also access support through our service Advocacy for All.
You can use Advocacy for All if you’re over 18 and live in Northern Ireland. To get in touch: 

Our phone lines and webchat are open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Friday.